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Papaverine is used for treating circulation problems that cause muscle spasms including chest pain, heart attack, irregular heartbeats, gastrointestinal spasms and for temporary control of high blood pressure.

How it works

Papaverine belongs to the class of medicines called as vasodilators. It acts on muscles of blood vessels, resulting in expansion of blood vessels and thus increasing the blood flow to heart and the affected organs

Common side effects

Nausea, Diarrhoea, Abdominal pain, Acute toxicity, Altered heart rate, Constipation, Headache, Increased sweating, Stomach upset


Expert advice

  • Exercise caution when used papaverine in children.
  • Inform your doctor if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma (Increased pressure inside the eye that causes visual problems), any heart or liver problem.
  • Do not use papaverine for longer than the prescribed treatment period as it is a habit forming drug and may cause dependence.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you experience jaundice like symptoms such as stomach pain, dark coloured urine, yellowing of eyes and skin, loss of appetite.
  • Do not consume alcohol when on treatment with papaverine, as it may worsen its side effects.
  • Do not drive or use any machinery after taking papaverine as it may cause dizziness.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.
  • Do not take if allergic to papavarine hydrochloride or any of its ingredients.
  • Do not take if suffering with severe liver disease.
  • Do not takt if having complete heart block (AV block).

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is papaverine a calcium channel blocker?
No, papaverine is not a calcium channel blocker but may show weak calcium channel blocker activity at high doses.

Q. Is papaverine an opiate?
Yes, papaverine is an opiate.

Q. Is papaverine narcotic?
No, papaverine is a non-narcotic alkaloid.

Q. Where does papaverine come from?
Papaverine is a hydrochloride salt of an alkaloid obtained from the opium plant, or prepared synthetically.

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)